Jan 23, 2017 | By Benedict

New York City-based Peloton, a startup that produces next-generation exercise bikes with touchscreen consoles and WiFi connectivity, is using MakerBot 3D printers to prototype new designs. The company debuted its most recent bike at CES 2017.

3D printing helped Peloton develop its next-gen exercise bike

Up-and-coming exercise specialist Peloton is changing the way people approach keeping fit. Founded in 2014, the company produces a sleek and silent exercise bike, complete with touchscreen interface and internet connectivity, that gives everyday exercisers a new and ultra-convenient way to take classes—without having to go to the gym. The high-tech bike can be used to livestream fitness classes from home, or from public places like hotel gyms, universities, or even hospitals, giving users one-to-one fitness expertise at their fingertips.

Peloton says it has raced ahead of the…ahem…peloton, by combining social media, high-energy content, and high-quality equipment, making the experience of home-based exercise both social and interactive. With its exercise bike, users can connect with friends, log their workout stats, and stream Peloton’s live or recorded classes on their own time. The bikes can also be synced with wearable activity trackers like the Fitbit.

According to Peloton, 3D printing has helped the innovative startup to maintain its rapid development speed, speeding up cycle design and providing a cost-effective means of prototyping various parts. Using the MakerBot Replicator (5th Gen) FDM 3D printer, the Peloton industrial design team 3D printed over a hundred iterations for twenty different parts over the course of just over a year. “It’s our primary 3D printing solution,” says Jason Poure, Director of Industrial Design. “Any designer can walk in the door and start 3D printing.”

The Peloton team 3D printed hundreds of iterations for 20 different parts throughout 2016

Now, with a number of MakerBot Replicator+ 3D printers added to its additive manufacturing arsenal, the company plans to continue with its 3D printing operations in order to stay a step ahead of competitors like FlyWheel Sports and SoulCycle. MakerBot estimates that, by using its own 3D printers instead of 3D printing service bureaus, the startup with save around $20,000 a year, shaving months off development time.

Once a 3D printed prototype has been produced, it takes only a short amount of time for a member of the team to verify the size, scale, and ergonomics of the part, before making a judgment call about whether the part is suitable for production. And with each 3D printed part costing just a dollar to produce, the design team has no problem reeling off multiple iterations to make sure the right option is chosen.

Although the MakerBot 3D printers were used to prototype many parts of the latest Peloton exercise bike, one of the most important parts was its bright red resistance knob, used to adjust the level of resistance for simulating changes in gear and incline. Being a critical part of the user’s experience, Peloton wanted to ensure that this part of the bike would be functional, attractive, and memorable. “You want the touchpoint of your brand to be the most beautiful element,” said Poure.

3D printing was used to perfect the bright red resistance knob

To create the red knob, industrial designer Nigel Alcorn first sketched some CAD designs, modeled them in SolidWorks, then 3D printed a prototype on the MakerBot FDM 3D printer. Each design represented a different direction, which the designer would then explain to Poure. Over approximately 36 iterations, Alcorn experimented with 8 and 6-sided forms, a base-cap structure, and an elegant design with three valleys and three peaks. With this design, which was eventually chosen for production, he could account for all riders—those who subtly turn the knob, and those who slap it to drastically change the resistance.

In the process of designing the knob alone, the team saved a few thousand dollars and a few weeks by prototyping with the MakerBot Replicator 3D printer. The technology was also used to design parts such as levers, weight holders, a water bottle holder, and a hub inside the wheel, allowing staff to verify the feel, snap, and function of a specific tolerance for a part. According to Alcorn, using the 3D printer is now essential for making sure the right iteration is chosen: “I can make a really educated comparison between two models that have a single feature that’s different by a millimeter,” he said.

The MakerBot Replicator+ is the latest addition to team Peloton

Peloton’s latest exercise bike, a $3,000 machine aimed at commercial users, was unveiled at CES 2017.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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